Monday, 25 May 2020

Gucci’s Alessandro Michele announces, via Instagram, that brand is abandoning official runway season

The move means Gucci becomes the second house within the giant luxury Kering group to confirm, in the wake of the global pandemic, that it will miss the next likely live international runway season in September. It joins Saint Laurent, Kering’s largest French label, which last month confirmed that it will not stage a show in Paris in the fall.

Michele used an unexpected method to break the news on Sunday afternoon – an Instagram post.

“I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story. Irregular, joyful, and absolutely free chapters, which will be written blending rules and genres, feeding on new spaces, linguistic codes, and communication platforms,” Michele wrote.

In the wake of Covid-19, the major European fashion federations canceled or pushed back this summer’s runway seasons, and now plan to make them into essentially digital experiences. Milan and Paris canceled their June menswear runway seasons; Paris called off its July couture week, and Pitti pushed back its next edition from June until early September. London now plans to stage an experimental digital-driven mixed season in June; while Paris and Milan will test drive co-ed digital seasons in mid-July. That said, London, Milan, New York, and Paris all still hope to stage runway seasons in September and October with live catwalk shows. Though with the effects of the pandemic changing every week, no federation has officially confirmed any final dates or schedules. 

This Sunday on Instagram, Michele posted a series of long, heartfelt and rambling texts, a half-dozen apparent diary entries entitled Notes from the Silence, beginning on March 29 and ending on May 16, 2020 in Rome. Each page features a drawing of an eye within a winged heart.

“And beyond. I would like to leave the paraphernalia of leitmotifs that colonized our prior world: cruise, pre-fall, spring-summer, fall-winter. I think these are stale and underfed words,” he added. 

However, Michele’s announcement of just two shows a year is less dramatic than it first appears. Since in 2019, Gucci only staged three shows; two ready-to-wear shows in Milan and a resort show in Florence; all of them co-ed collections. Moreover, the Gucci pre-fall 2020 collection was shown only via an edgy lookbook shot around the ancient walls and tramlines of Michele’s native city, Rome. Moreover, it remains unclear where and when Gucci plans to next stage an actual catwalks event.

That said, by this statement, Gucci effectively joins several other key designers in taking a real break from the runway or repurposing their catwalk ideas. Giorgio Armani, for instance, has announced that he would not participate in the mixed Milan season in July, and will skip the Paris couture seasons, where he has shown his bespoke Armani Privé collection for the past decade, for the next year. Though Armani does still hopes to show on a catwalk in Milan Fashion Week, which is currently expected to be held from September 22 to 28.

The Gucci announcement also comes a week after a group of designers, led by Dries Van Noten, issued an open letter calling for a more sustainable fashion calendar and fewer markdowns. In a missive that was, however, notably short on specifics.

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